Every so often, you run into a program that combines doing good for people who need it with thrift and economy; and it's always a mystery to me why policy makers don't pounce on those programs and fully fund them. Normally, one reason for not fully funding a program is cost; but in the case of spending that actually saves money over the long term, that really shouldn't be an issue. At one point in the 90s, prenatal care was like this: providing prenatal care for pregnant women who couldn't afford it would have saved money not just over the long term, but in the same fiscal year, by preventing babies from being born prematurely or with costly health problems, problems that the government has to pay for enough of the time to produce the cost savings. So we could have saved money by sparing children serious health problems, some of which would mar their lives. But for some reason we didn't. What that reason might possibly have been, I have absolutely no idea: to me, it is a mystery that passeth all understanding.The program under the axe this time is one that provides pap smears and other early-detection gynecological screens to the working poor - women who have jobs, and make enough money not to recieve Meidcaid, but do not have health insurance. From the NYT article hilzoy cites:
Well, it's happening again.
"It won't save money," he said. "You don't save money by not diagnosing cancer early. You end up spending more money because anyone who develops cancer will get into the health care system and they will be treated. And the cost at that point will be a lot more. The logic here is very simple: the later you diagnose cancer of the breast or cervix, the more expensive it is to the country."Contact your Senators and tell them that these budget cuts cannot pass.
This is just one program in a range of cancer services that rely on support from the federal government. As if immune to the extent of human suffering involved, President Bush has proposed a barrage of cuts for these programs.
"What's really amazing," said Mr. Smith, "is that the president cut every cancer program. He cut the colorectal cancer program. He cut research at the National Cancer Institute. He cut literally every one of our cancer-specific programs. It's incomprehensible."
A bipartisan movement is under way in the Senate to block the president's proposed cuts. How that ultimately will fare is unclear.
What is clear is that cancer is a disease that horrifies most Americans, and with good reason. One out of every two men will contract the disease in his lifetime, and one out of every three women.
This is an area in which we need to be doing more, not less."